The Unnerving Acquisition of TUSD
UPDATE: I will be including Noah Buxton from Armanino’s statement on the matter. Here is a notice that was posted:
Mr. Buxton says that it’s been “publicly stated twice” (archive) that attestations will be starting again soon. Due to the fact that no formal attestations have been issued since this acquisition announcement in December and no date has been established when the attestations will begin again, all statements in this piece are accurate as of publishing.
Mr. Buxton is also adamant that “the dashboard is (still) live and fully integrated.”
Lastly, Mr. Buxton stated that Techteryx is “just a DBA” (archive)(doing-business-as) for the venture purchasing TUSD, despite the fact that in the forum post it was described as an “Asia-based conglomerate.”
In December of 2020 TrueUSD was acquired by a company going by the name “Techteryx.” You can view where this was announced here:
Now, Trust Token has several different aspects to its business, but the most well known arm is what’s called TrueUSD, or TUSD, a cryptocurrency-based stablecoin that holds one USD for every TUSD issued. As of the time of writing this there are roughly 325 million TUSD in existence.
So why is this acquisition by Techteryx unnerving? For many reasons.
- JP Koning pointed out on Twitter that while TUSD used to get monthly attestations from an auditing firm, those attestations have ceased since this acquisition:
2. Techteryx, seemingly, doesn’t exist. There is no record of this “Asia-based conglomerate” anywhere on the internet. The only available “data,” if we can even call it that, is this blogspot that offers next to nothing:
3. “Jennifer Jiang” is listed as lead investor on this acquisition. Who is Jennifer? Unfortunately, we can’t be sure because there is no proper way to contact her or anyone at Techteryx. I’ve reached out to different individuals at Trust Token for contact information — as of writing this, none have responded to those requests. This story will be updated if they reach out.
4. There is one “Jennifer Jiang” who seems to fit the bill of the one described in the original blog post. Her Chinese name is Jiang Hongbo and her resumé… well, it speaks for itself:
Jiang also had the opportunity to “spend an afternoon” with the head of the Bank of China before she got her fellowship at MIT and currently helps run something called CAMLab at Harvard — what appears to be a collaborative effort between the university and the Chinese government.
5. If this is the same Jennifer, she runs two other blockchain related companies: BlockTest and LatticeX. When I asked a confidant in China to describe what LatticeX is, their reply was, and I’m quoting word-for-word here, “it sounds like it’s a blockchain that will improve the world and make things better, it sounds awesome.” Uhhh… okay then.
Guanxi and Jennifer Jiang
Again, while we can’t be certain this is the same Jiang, it sure seems like it — now let’s get into why this is very unnerving when it comes to the acquisition of a USD-based stablecoin.
Guanxi is arguably the most important dynamic when it comes to finance and historical financial culture in China. Guanxi is difficult to define, but under the simplest guise it amounts to “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”
Jennifer Jiang’s education and immediate placement at high-end positions at American financial institutions— especially in a time as pivotal and vital as the 1990s in China — leads one to believe she has acquired a lot of solid gold guanxi. This could mean lots of things: maybe she comes from a wealthy family, maybe she had a friend working at the right place at the right time, or maybe (and most likely) she’s politically well-connected.
Which lands us at the end of this venture into the acquisition of TUSD with two final questions: why is a well-connected Chinese national purchasing a 1–1 backed US stablecoin and why can’t they get attestations any more?
Remember, stay skeptical, friends.